introduction

while preparing for my journey, i was looking for facts and numbers from previous thruhiker; and i didn't find a lot. therefore, i summarized the essential information of my hike here on this site.

i blogged during my thruhike, but that website was deleted in august 2017. however, i converted the blog into an ebook, which is available for download. my apologies for all the typos in it; it was written during the hike on my phone.

the trail

te araroa (the long pathway) is new zealand's long distance tramping route, stretching the length of the two main islands from cape reinga to bluff. it is made up of a mixture of older tracks and walkways, new tracks and link sections alongside roads. th eoverall length of the trail is roughly 3'000 km.

topographic maps and trail notes are provided and regulary updated by the te araroa trust.

about me

my name is thorsten brocke, i am german and born in 1976.

from 17 december 2013 to 04 april 2014 (in the age of 37) i thruhiked te araroa southbound from cape reinga to stirling point (bluff).

it was not my first time in new zealand: i came first in 1996 during my time in the merchant navy and then again in 2006, 2008 and 2011 to hike in summary 1'500 km. in other terms, i was mentally not unprepared and knew what kind of terrain i was heading into.

summary

my thruhike in a nutshell: and i would do it again without hesitating a single second.

my itinerary

day   date   location time   distance   total   acc.
  cape reinga       (0 km)  
1  17 dec 2013  ninety miles beach   8,0 h  36 km   (36 km)  
2  18 dec 2013  hukatere lodge   9,5 h  41 km   (77 km)  
3  19 dec 2013  ahipara   8,0 h  35 km   (112 km)  
4  20 dec 2013  takahue  10,0 h  27 km   (139 km)  
5  21 dec 2013  upper makene road  12,0 h  19 km   (158 km)  
6  22 dec 2013  apple tree camp   7,0 h  23 km   (181 km)  
7  23 dec 2013  puketi forest headquarters  10,0 h  30 km   (211 km)  
8  24 dec 2013  kerikeri   7,0 h  28 km   (239 km)  
9  25 dec 2013  paihia   6,0 h  25 km   (264 km)  
10  26 dec 2013  russell road   7,5 h  22 km   (286 km)  
11  27 dec 2013  whananaki north   9,0 h  37 km   (323 km)  
12  28 dec 2013  ngunguru   7,5 h  26 km   (349 km)  
13  29 dec 2013  taiharuru estuary  10,0 h  44 km   (393 km)  
14  30 dec 2013  mckenzie bay   7,0 h  27 km   (420 km)  
15  31 dec 2013  ruakaka   4,0 h  17 km   (437 km)  
16  01 jan 2014  mangawhai heads   8,5 h  37 km   (474 km)  
17  02 jan 2014  te arai beach   7,0 h  27 km   (501 km)  
18  03 jan 2014  waiwhiu valley   9,0 h  30 km   (531 km)  
19  04 jan 2014  puhoi   8,0 h  27 km   (558 km)  
20  05 jan 2014  auckland / takapuna   8,5 h  34 km   (592 km)  
21  06 jan 2014  clevedon   8,0 h  33 km   (625 km)  
22  07 jan 2014  wairoa reservoir   7,5 h  27 km   (652 km)  
23  08 jan 2014  koheroa road   9,0 h  34 km   (686 km)  
24  09 jan 2014  rangiriri   9,5 h  38 km   (724 km)  
25  10 jan 2014  ngaruawahia   8,0 h  34 km   (758 km)  
26  11 jan 2014  kamaru   7,0 h  30 km   (788 km)  
27  12 jan 2014  pahautea hut   8,0 h  23 km   (811 km)  
28  13 jan 2014  te rauamoa   8,0 h  14 km   (825 km)  
29  14 jan 2014  waitomo   9,0 h  36 km   (861 km)  
30  15 jan 2014  te kuiti   6,5 h  21 km   (882 km)  
31  16 jan 2014  mangaokewa valley   6,0 h  20 km   (902 km)  
32  17 jan 2014  mangaokewa road   7,5 h  34 km   (936 km)  
33  18 jan 2014  bog inn hut   9,0 h  37 km   (973 km)  
34  19 jan 2014  waihaha hut   8,5 h  20 km   (993 km)  
35  20 jan 2014  hauhungaroa hut   6,5 h  13 km  (1006 km)  
36  21 jan 2014  taumarunui   7,0 h  23 km  (1029 km)  
37  22 jan 2014  owhango   5,0 h  21 km  (1050 km)  
38  23 jan 2014  42 traverse   8,5 h  32 km  (1082 km)  
39  24 jan 2014  waihohonu hut   8,5 h  35 km  (1117 km)  
40  25 jan 2014  rangipo hut   5,0 h  14 km  (1131 km)  
41  26 jan 2014  mangaehuehu hut   4,0 h  10 km  (1141 km)  
42  27 jan 2014  ohakune   8,5 h  37 km  (1178 km)  
43  28 jan 2014  jerusalem   9,5 h  44 km  (1222 km)  
44  29 jan 2014  atene   8,0 h  37 km  (1259 km)  
45  30 jan 2014  wanganui   8,0 h  38 km  (1297 km)  
46  31 jan 2014  koitiata   7,0 h  34 km  (1331 km)  
47  01 feb 2014  bulls   7,5 h  30 km  (1361 km)  
48  02 feb 2014  palmerston north   9,0 h  42 km  (1403 km)  
49  03 feb 2014  scotts road   8,0 h  31 km  (1434 km)  
50  04 feb 2014  tokomaru reservoir dam   7,5 h  20 km  (1454 km)  
51  05 feb 2014  makahika   7,5 h  18 km  (1472 km)  
52  06 feb 2014  waiopehu hut   5,0 h  10 km  (1482 km)  
53  07 feb 2014  te matawai hut   4,0 h   6 km  (1488 km)  
54  08 feb 2014  makahika   8,0 h  21 km  (1509 km)  
55  09 feb 2014  otaki   7,5 h  33 km  (1542 km)  
56  10 feb 2014  paraparaumu beach   6,5 h  30 km  (1572 km)  
57  11 feb 2014  porirua  10,0 h  46 km  (1618 km)  
58  12 feb 2014  picton   3,0 h  13 km  (1631 km)  
(+1)  13 feb 2014  picton (rest & food parcelling)   1,5 h   6 km  (1637 km)  
(+2)  14 feb 2014  picton (seakayaking)   1,0 h   4 km  (1641 km)  
59  15 feb 2014  havelock   8,0 h  37 km  (1678 km)  
60  16 feb 2014  pelorus valley   7,5 h  28 km  (1706 km)  
61  17 feb 2014  middy hut   7,5 h  20 km  (1726 km)  
62  18 feb 2014  browning hut   9,5 h  16 km  (1742 km)  
63  19 feb 2014  brightwater   7,0 h  24 km  (1766 km)  
64  20 feb 2014  mid wairoa hut   9,5 h  32 km  (1798 km)  
65  21 feb 2014  top wairoa hut   5,0 h   9 km  (1807 km)  
66  22 feb 2014  hunters hut   6,5 h  11 km  (1818 km)  
67  23 feb 2014  red hills hut  10,0 h  20 km  (1838 km)  
68  24 feb 2014  st arnaud   4,5 h  20 km  (1858 km)  
69  25 feb 2014  sabine hut   9,0 h  26 km  (1884 km)  
70  26 feb 2014  blue lake hut   8,0 h  23 km  (1907 km)  
71  27 feb 2014  waiau valley   9,5 h  19 km  (1926 km)  
72  28 feb 2014  new anne river hut   6,5 h  25 km  (1951 km)  
73  01 mar 2014  boyle village  10,0 h  30 km  (1981 km)  
74  02 mar 2014  hope kiwi lodge   8,0 h  28 km  (2009 km)  
75  03 mar 2014  hurunui no 3 hut   9,0 h  29 km  (2038 km)  
76  04 mar 2014  locke stream hut   7,0 h  15 km  (2053 km)  
77  05 mar 2014  arthurs pass   8,0 h  21 km  (2074 km)  
(+3)  06 mar 2014  arthurs pass (resting)   2,0 h   7 km  (2081 km)  
78  07 mar 2014  hamilton hut   8,0 h  19 km  (2100 km)  
79  08 mar 2014  lake coleridge village   8,0 h  30 km  (2130 km)  
80  09 mar 2014  comyns hut   5,5 h  17 km  (2147 km)  
81  10 mar 2014  double hut   9,0 h  18 km  (2165 km)  
82  11 mar 2014  mesopotamia station   9,0 h  37 km  (2202 km)  
83  12 mar 2014  stone hut   8,0 h  19 km  (2221 km)  
84  13 mar 2014  camp stream hut   9,0 h  22 km  (2243 km)  
85  14 mar 2014  lake tekapo   8,5 h  30 km  (2273 km)  
86   15 mar 2014  lake pukaki   8,0 h  38 km  (2311 km)  
87  16 mar 2014  twizel   8,0 h  34 km  (2345 km)  
88  17 mar 2014  lake ohau   7,0 h  30 km  (2375 km)  
89  18 mar 2014  east ahuriri valley   7,0 h  21 km  (2396 km)  
90  19 mar 2014  tin hut   7,0 h  22 km  (2418 km)  
91  20 mar 2014  timaru hut   6,0 h  14 km  (2432 km)  
92  21 mar 2014  pakituhi hut  10,5 h  27 km  (2459 km)  
93  22 mar 2014  wanaka   7,0 h  25 km  (2484 km)  
94  23 mar 2014  fern burn hut   7,5 h  26 km  (2510 km)  
95  24 mar 2014  roses hut   8,5 h  17 km  (2527 km)  
96  25 mar 2014  arrowtown   8,0 h  29 km  (2556 km)  
97  26 mar 2014  queenstown   7,0 h  32 km  (2588 km)  
98  27 mar 2014  taipo hut   7,5 h  21 km  (2609 km)  
99  28 mar 2014  careys hut   5,0 h  19 km  (2628 km)  
100  29 mar 2014  kiwi burn hut   7,5 h  28 km  (2656 km)  
101  30 mar 2014  mossburn   8,5 h  39 km  (2695 km)  
102  31 mar 2014  opio   8,0 h  38 km  (2733 km)  
103  01 apr 2014  pourakino valley   8,5 h  40 km  (2773 km)  
104  02 apr 2014  taramea bay   7,5 h  35 km  (2808 km)  
105  03 apr 2014  invercargill   9,5 h  43 km  (2851 km)  
106  04 apr 2014  bluff / stirling point   8,0 h  38 km  (2889 km)  

tent  
hut  
invited  
flat, b&b, hostel, hotel, motel  

neat to know

the information given reflects the situation in 2013/14 if not stated otherwise.

trail characteristic

the track will not always be maintained, you you need both the will and the fitness to fight your way along overgrown bush sections, through mud pools and rivers. some sections are only poorly marked, so advanced navigation skills are required. and i promise you, you will be exhausted beyond any exhaustion you ever experienced, both physical and psychical.

for a couple of section you should consider bypass options. altough the trail notes suggest to ask local boaties for a lift on the river inlets north of auckland, they do not consider themselves a ferry service for hikers; be prepared to use commercial services. the southern part of the hunua range is totally overgrown, the pirongia range is a rain trap and bloody moody, and the tararuas receive only 60 days of good weather per year; so be prepared to find alternate routes to negotiate these sections. no idea why there is a canoe section in a hiking trail; but actually tongariro national park it the highlight of the north island, so stay a little bit longer, take the round-the-mountain track to ohakune and recoonect with the trail along the low-traffic road to pipiriki.

getting northest

the most direct transport to cape reinga is olly lancaster (phone 09 409 7500), who picked me up in kaitaia in the early morning and dropped me off at the cape at 10 o'clock for a fare of 30 nzd.

natural barriers

you have four natural barriers to negotiate.

bluebridge and interislander will take you across cook strait. i would recommend the first; it is less touristy, and they run a bus that drops you of at your accommodation at picton.

toni and dean from lake coleridge lodge offer transport around rakaia river for their guests. hitching around might be painful since there is only minimal traffic along the road on the true right bank.

update november 2016:
lake coleridge lodge has new owners, but the transport arrangement remains the same. i heard of a bus departing early from methven to pick up farm kids for school.

sue and malcolm prouting of mesopotamia station offer an airlift across rangitata river from mt potts lodge to their place by helicopter or airplane. since they are already on site, the fare is actually affordable (100 nzd pp). hitching around is feasible: since mt sunday on the true left bank is a destination for lord of the ring enthusiasts, there is plenty of traffic. on the true right bank, there is a mail bus running between mesopotamia station and peel forest, which also is a popular place. however, hitching takes you between 4 hours and 3 days to get around.

update november 2016:
with both the mt potts airfield and the small helicopter from mesopotamia station (robinson r-22) no longer operational, the airlift option became more expensive. mesopotamia station is now running a md500 notar, and they charge a minimum of 600 nzd per flight. it can transport up to four trampers plus gear, so if you can gather another three other hiker, its still an affordable and fast option to cross the river. alps2ocean does provide transport between hakatere or mt potts lodge to peel forest from 150 NZD pp. at peel forest, kelly and mike from peel forest cafe and bar might also be a helpful source of information.

altough the track notes refer to a water taxi across lake wakatipu (which is only running on demand and is very expensive), the easiest way to get from queenstown to the greenstone carpark is by bus. alternatively, you could take the vintage steamship tss earnslaw from queenstown to walter peak station and follow the road to mavora river; however you would face a 60 km road walk to re-connect with the trail and miss both greenstone and mavora valley.

fitness

i would like to make one issue perfectly clear: te araroa is no training ground, it will be a rough adventure taking you to your limits and beyond.

altough there are no predators or poisonous animals in new zealand, your enemies will be to8ugh terrain and the weather. new zealand is mercyless and will not forgive mistakes. several sections of te araroa are just linking older trails or were created to keep you away from roads; i found even locals considering these sections too demanding to hike on.

so if you have never done a long distance hike before, te araroa is most likely the wrong place to start with; it would be like learning to drive a car by participating in the world rallye championship. if you have never been to new zealand before be advised that this part of the world is a bit rougher and tougher than the rest of it.

on the trail, i have met rookies both completing the thruhike (most likely even cleaner than i did) and also bailing out after the first bush sections on day four and five (tough sections, but there is even tougher stuff to negotiate furtheron). i also have seen long distance hiking veterans giving up, so even experienced hikers might find themselves having taken larger bites than they can chew.

safety issues

as already said, your enemies will be rough terrain and the weather.

the number one causes of death in the backcountry are hypothermia and drowning in flooded rivers. at multiple occasions, your track will be the river. you must be equipped for any weather, from 30°c on sandy beaches to -10°c in the highlands. you must expect snow at any time of the year. in new zealand, an isolated rain front can bring in more rain in a few hours than central europe receives in three month. you must be prepared to sit out a day or two of bad weather in the backcountry.

be prepared for any meteorological condition. take more food than you expect to need, you might have to sit out a storm or heavy rain. consider the times given in the track notes as minimum and assume you will be slower. know your limits, there is no shame in being careful or in turning around. you want to enjoy te araroa and not die while doing it.

never attempt to cross flooded rivers. no worries, the water level will fall almost as fast as it rose during the rain.

always leave intentions with friends. have a plan and communicate it. define an alert date; so if you do not report in by then, your friends can contact nz police and initiate search and rescue:

 north comms (covers north island north of turangi): 0064 9 571 2800
 central comms (covers north island south of turangi): 0064 4 381 2000
 south comms (covers the south island): 0064 3 363 7400

sign the visitor books in the backcountry huts; that is the first sar will check when they come looking for you. do never ever get off trail without leaving a note behind where you are heading, for example in the visitor book of the nearest hut.

satcom

satellite communication is the only reliable way of communication in the backcountry. currently, there are three systems available.

personal locator beacons (plb) use the cospas/sarsat satellite network which is purpose-build for search and rescue. modern devices feature a build-in gps receiver. once engaged, the signal of a plb will be received and processed within less than one minute. the devices cost from 200 eur onwards. it is an one-way system; you can send but not receive. some countries (like germany) do not allow registration of plbs to individuals; however uk] and us] authorities accept registrations from foreigners. the beacon must be coded for the country of registration.

satellite messengers, like spot use satellite communication networks, have less transmission power, require open terrain to function and can need up to 40 minutes until a signal is relayed. it is a nice way to keep your family and friends updated about your whereabouts, but the system is not part of any international search and rescue network. the devices cost approximately 100 eur plus another 100 eur for a yearly plan. they also operate one-way only.

the only satellite phone network operating world-wide is iridium. sat phones provide two-way communication. the devices cost from 1000 eur onwards, prepaid plans are available. there might be no or reduced reception in enclosed terrain.

my personal favourite is the personal locator beacon; mine was purchased at amazon.com and is registered with noaa/usaf. plbs are commonly carried in the backcountry.

visa

a thruhike of te araroa will take in average 120 days; even more if you aim for side trips and rest days. this is beyond the three months you are allowed to stay in the country without a visa; so in most cases, a visitor visa will be required. to apply for it you need is and (voila) you got granted all the time you need. allow one month for the visa to be processed.

equipment

go as light as you dare. a small pack will give the bush less to cling on. the lighter you go, the faster and further you can hike. but remember: be prepared for any weather at any time. in new zealand, snow in summer is not just a possibility; you will definitely run into it. 40-50 liters usually are a good pack volume to start with.

the best gear is the equipment you have used for years because you haven't found anything better and lighter yet. if possible, bring your gear with you; outdoor equipment in new zealand is rather expensive. you can mail spare equipment ahead, any nz post office with keep a poste restante parcel for up to three months. when sending your bounce box to an accommodation it is strongly recommended to contact to the recipient first. some places charge for holding a parcel.

shoewise, many hikers i met wore runners; they used up to five pair for the thruhike. altough these shoes dry fast after river fordings they lack support for the ankles. i was tramping with light hiking boots and used up two pairs of them. i must admit that i usually swapped the boots for sandals when walking in a river.

a tent will be needed for at least a quarter of your nights on the trail. there are tents on the market which weight less than 1 kg per person. they are not the cheapest, but it is money well invested. consider that you might have to sit out a day of adverse weather in the tent, so it should be larger than a coffin.

trekking poles come in very handy for alpine terrain, river fordings, steep climbs and descents.

i would recommend to take a gps device with you for navigation. smartphones have an integrated gps, and there are free offline mapping applications available like osmand using the osm mapset. also for stand-alone gps devices like garmins, free osm based maps are available.

cell phone coverage is available in the vicinity of most settlements and at high ground. in 2013/14 vodafone had the best network in the country; and the 250 mb of data coming along with every 20 nzd top-up usually covered my monthly traffic.

most long distance hikers use alcohol stoves for cooking. they are light, almost indestructible, very reliable, and the fuel is available in every little store. plus, the fuel can be used for starting a fire.

thanks

a journey like this could not have been done without a little help. ok, sometimes with a lot help. therefore, i would like to thank my trail angels: it would have been a different trip with you.

other hikers

and i also would like to sum up all the other hikers i meet along my journey: it was an honour to be a part of your journey and a pleasure to see you being a part of mine.

contact

taxxx@thobr.de

if you have any questions about te araroa or if you are looking for advice while preparing for your time in new zealand, please feel free to send me a message.

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